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Insight: Firefighting Veterans / Farid & Naheed Senzai / Mayan Researchers / Rail Tales / Pavarotti

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Insight: Firefighting Veterans / Farid & Naheed Senzai / Mayan Researchers / Rail Tales / Pavarotti


Published December 20, 2012


With 2012 winding down, we're revisiting some favorite conversations from this year on Insight.

Firefighting Veterans - When we spoke with veterans Andrew McFerrin and Brendan Gray in June, fire season was fast approaching and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection was losing more than $30 million in budget cuts in 2011. Not only that, military veterans were returning home to Northern California were having a hard time finding jobs. The California Conservation Corps recognized that it was a serious problem and came up with a solution that creates volunteer firefighters by training military veterans in fire and forestry. The training and volunteer work were the first steps toward a potential career as a journey-level firefighter.

Update: In the past 18 months, nearly 300 veterans-men and women-have been hired by the CCC. Both Andrew and Brendan were hired by the U.S. Forest Service shortly after they completed their training. The veterans program is expanding to a North coast fisheries crew, in addition to the veterans programs involved in energy, backcountry trails, and forestry work. The CCC continues to hire, particularly in the 18-27 age range. More information and job opportunities can be found at ccc.ca.gov.

Farid & Naheed Senzai - Farid Senzai is a leading expert on Muslim/Middle East-U.S. relations, whose family dramatically escaped from Afghanistan when Farid was a child. He became a teacher a top expert, and writer of Muslim, Middle Eastern U.S. relations. He married an adventurous American woman named Nahid Haznat and she captured the story of Farid's escape in Shooting Kabul, an award-winning novel loosely based on Farid's experience. her new book is titled Feud For Thought.

Mayan Researchers - Two professors at UC Davis co-authored a study linking the collapse of the Mayan civilization with the preceding decades of extreme weather. For the first time researchers have linked climatic records with the ebbs and flows of the political climate in ancient Maya. When weather was good, the populous and political centers rose while when the weather declined it corresponded with crop failures, famine and the eventual collapse of the Mayan civilization. Professors Martha Macri and Bruce Winterhalder examined the possible correlations between the disastrous weather that preceded Maya's collapse and the current political and climatic situation.

Update: Professor Winterhalder adds this thought: He finds it unfortunate that the mistaken and sensationalist claims surrounding the Maya calendar ⦠sometimes have crowded out the more important warning from this ancient society: that even complex and technologically sophisticated peoples can succumb to natural processes they do not understand or appreciate.

Rail Tales - Not everyone can create a story from a trip on the light rail, but Brian Green isn't everyone. He's been riding the light rail for the past two decades, collecting stories about the unique people he's met along the way. When Brian accumulated more than 600 friends and 200 posts on Facebook he decided to write Rail Tales: Adventures on Public Transit. The book is 100 pages and consists of small stories/vignettes - laid out by month. It also includes random photos Brian has taken on light rail train rides throughout Sacramento. In June, we joined Brian on his normal commute route and asked him to explain the inspiration for his tales.

Update: Since the show aired, Brian was named "Best Public Transit Fan" in November's "Best Of" issue of Sacramento magazine. The book is still selling at the Avid Reader, Amazon.com, and Barnes & Noble-three copies are also in the Sacramento Couty Library System and someone asks him about it nearly every day. Today, you might spot him riding the light rail, capturing passengers' stories for a Rail Tales sequel.

Sean Bianco's Pavarotti - Do you wonder how one generation learns best from a generation before? Capital Public Radio's opera host Sean Bianco was thinking this when we asked him to join us for Sound Advice back in March. He reflected on Luciano Pavarotti--one of the best Italian tenors the world has known--with the hopes that even the youngest of our listeners would come to know and love this great performer as well.


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